Just thought I'd be one of the few to put Jericho/Punk as my number one Mania match. Thought the stipulation made the first segment interesting with Jericho in the Foleyesque position of letting Punk beat on him trying to entice the DQ.
I've seen a lot of posts claiming the crowd was dead, but I got the impression that the audience, like me, were watching the 'wrestling' intently, more akin to a Japanese crowd, which if my impressions are correct is a feat in itself given the boisterous nature of the fans.
Because I expected a lot from this match, I in turn expected to be let down with the result, however when the match was finished I found myself very pleased with what I had just witnessed.
Wanted to get behind you on this. Might be my MOTY right now, and definitely my favorite match from Mania.
I think I view crowds differently from most people. Generally I feel a crowd can add to a match, but can't detract from the match itself - it's either a net plus, or the crowd deserves to be removed from the equation. These guys have been treated as second-class stars behind Rock, Cena, HHH, HBK and Undertaker, and they were slotted after the Hell in a Cell match already burned down the building. Their match is not guilty for lacking Steve Austin or some other insane legacy. Not having the crowd into it at the start was not their fault, nor does it detract from the match they wrestled.
It reminded me of the amazing Danielson Vs. Styles match from Main Event Spectacles where the audience was simply too burned out from crazy stuff and a long night to get into a technical wrestling match. In ways Main Event Spectacles was a worse spot to be in, but following End of an Era with Shawn Michaels bouncing around and infinite weapons shots was unenviable.
I said "nor does it detract from the match they wrestled" because without a doubt they wrestled the best match of the night. Punk bumped and sold like a madman, but actually took fewer dangerous falls than HHH and Undertaker - they just framed them to make them matter more. All the stuff with Punk's back and Jericho trying to work into his Walls variation was great. I found the stipulation cheesy, but Jericho set up all the teases as unique, so it didn't get redundant, and soon enough they progressed to the meat of the match. Punk finally capturing Jericho in the G2S and screaming "Best in the World" had more personality than HHH stumbling into the Tombstone or Cena goofing on the People's Elbow. And I really liked those two matches.
I've heard the two spent months putting the match together. While it's not a Savage/Steamboat masterpiece, the level of thought did show. It was just great stuff. Jericho as a coward, Jericho as an opportunist, Jericho as dangerous, Punk as vengeful, Punk as vulnerable, Punk as triumphant - every phase of the match worked swimmingly.